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Showing posts from January, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Ezekiel 32:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

When the Lord comes in power, everything changes. To the valley of dry bones, the Word of God is spoken: "I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live" (Ezekiel 37:14). It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit that there can be blessing among God's people. It is only through the Spirit's power that God's work is carried forward in the blessing of many who are dead in their sins without God's saving grace. When the Lord comes in power, everything changes. The dead are brought to life. The Spirit has been given to us. In Romans 8:10-17, the spiritual nature is summed up thus: it's "the Spirit" living in us. Our new life is life in the Spirit. We must never think of spirituality as if it is some kind of higher nature in us. It's the Spirit who has been given to us. The power of Jesus - and the love of Jesus "Lazarus has died, but I'm glad that I wasn't there so that you can grow in faith" (John 11:15). "I

Fourth Sunday of Lent: 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Don't settle for second best ... ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (1 Samuel 16:4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’(1 Samuel 16:7). ‘The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart’ – This is something we must never forget!’. ‘It’s the presence of Your Spirit, Lord, we need’ ( Songs of Fellowship , 256) – This is the lesson we must learn from the stories of Saul and David. The great difference between the two men is summed up in verses 1 Samuel 16:13-14: ‘the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David… the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul’. David exerted a good influence upon Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). Sadly, however, Saul’s best days were behind him. He was only a shadow of what he could have become if he had chosen to become ‘ a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Don’t settle for second best when you can have God’s very best! Awake, O sleeper.   God wants us to ‘grow up in every way into Ch

Third Sunday of Lent: Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2,5-8; John 4:5-42

Look beyond Moses to Jesus. We read, in Exodus 17:3-8, about God's provision of water for His people in the wilderness. We read about Moses' leadership. Jesus is greater than Moses. He is more than a leader. He is the Saviour. He is "living water"  (see notes on John 4 - Jesus meets the woman at the well).   “While we were still sinne rs, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Is this no longer true just because a lot of people have lost interest in singing the song of salvation? No! This was Good News in Paul’s day. It’s still Good News for today. It will always be the Good News of God’s love. It will always be the great reminder of God’s “for ever” love (Psalm 136). Jesus meets the woman at the well. Here, we see Jesus at work, sharing the Gospel , leading the Samaritan woman to faith. we see Jesus, bringing many Samaritans to faith ( John 4:39 ; John 4:41-42 ). Notice how the situation develops. Jesus does not set out with the specific goal of speaking about t

Second Sunday of Lent: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9

God's Blessing - Given,  Accepted And Enjoyed (Genesis 12 & 13) The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3).  God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity g

First Sunday of Lent: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Created by God, Created for God Genesis 2:7 "the breath of life" Everything changes when the Lord breathes His breath of life into us. * Until God comes to us in power, our situation is desperate - "I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry" (Ezekiel 37:2). Genesis 2:8 "garden" To those who put their trust in Him, the Lord gives His very precious promises - "You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail" (Isaiah 58:11); "They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more" (Jeremiah 31:12). Looking to the Lord as we move towards the great future He has planned for us, we look beyond the Old Testament prophets. We look forward to the glorious fulfilment of God's wonderful purpose of eternal salvation - "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb d

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28; Romans 3:21-25,28; Matthew 7:21-27

Obedience and Blessing God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons.  Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (Deuteronomy 11:31-32).  If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God – the warnings as well as the promises.  Obedience to God – This is the most important thing in the life of faith.  Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith.  By our obedience, we show our ‘love’ for the Lord.  We rejoice in ‘all the great work of the Lord’.  By ‘His mighty hand’, He has provided for us a great salvation.  Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 11:8-15).  Without obedience, there can be no blessing (Deuteronomy 11:16-17).  Teach others to obey God – especially the ‘children’ (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).  God is good.  He loves us (Deuteronomy 11:22-25).  Obey Him.  Choose blessing (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). We bring our sin to Jesus. He g

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

" But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15  “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:14-15). What "joy" there is in the Lord's "comfort" and "compassion" (Isaiah 49:13). He reaches out to us in compassion. He reaches out to us with His comfort. We rejoice in Him - the God of compassion, the God of comfort. "The Almighty Lord helps me" (Isaiah 50:7,9). What help there is in the Lord! The Maker of heaven and earth is our Helper. "The people ransomed by the Lord will return. They will come to Zion, singing with joy" (Isaiah 51:11). How does the Lord help us? He has "ransomed" us. We have been "bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). We have been "redeemed with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Pleasing God - this is the m

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48

Holiness and Love Holiness and love – the two belong together (Leviticus 19:1,18,34).  God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love.  Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life.  We need His promises.  We need His commands.  Take them both together – not one without the other!  Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing.  Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace.  We are to ‘be holy … before Him in love ‘ (Ephesians 1:4).  ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (Leviticus 19:34,36). C hrist is greater than Paul, Apollos and Cephas (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to ‘Jesu

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” ( 1 Corinthians 2:9 ). How does the Lord keep us walking in His way? – He keeps on bringing to our attention the glorious future which He is preparing for us. He keeps on reminding us that we are being prepared for His eternal glory. How is He preparing us for ”praise,  glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”? – He is teaching us to “love Him. ” The more we are learning to love Him, the more we will look forward, “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” to  ”the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls” ( 1 Peter 1:7-9 ). Salt and Light ... We're called to be "salt for the earth" and "light for the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). How can we be "salt" and "light" in a world that has turned its back on the things that matter most in life? Can we do this by "setting aside Moses'

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16

"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer ... H e will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 58:9) God’s Word invites us to ‘call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved’ (Acts 2:21). To each and every one of us, the call of God comes. He's calling us to come to Him. This is the call of our loving, heavenly Father. It's the call of our Saviour. It's the call of the Spirit. Before we say, "Here am I" (Isaiah 6:8), God says, "Here am I." Before we call on the Lord, He calls out to us. This is the God of love, the God of grace, the God of mercy. He comes to give us His "peace" - "Peace, peace to those far and near" (Isaiah 57:19). He comes to give us His "joy" - "you will find joy in the Lord" (Isaiah 58:14). We rejoice in Jesus Christ. He is "the High and Exalted One." He has come from His "high and holy place." He has become "Emmanuel" , "God with us." He is our peace

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a

The Lord is calling us back to Himself - from sin and sadness to salvation and gladness. ‘The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly... That Day will be a Day of wrath... I will bring distress upon the people... because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1). In Zephaniah, we have a story of sin - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She h

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). The prophecy has been spoken - ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given...’. The prophecy has been fulfilled - ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ - for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did - ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour... for the Mighty One has done great things for me...’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest...’ (Luke 2:10; Luke 1:46-50; Luke 2:14). All The Grace Comes From God, And Al

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Don't Keep God's Great Salvation To Yourself. "The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show My glory ... I will make you a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:1,7). We are not to keep the Lord's salvation to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know.’ (Isaiah 49:26). ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the Name to sinners given, it scatters all their guilty fear, it turns their hell to heaven’ - This is not something to keep to ourselves. We must make Christ known to others - ‘Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace. His only righteousness I show, His saving truth proclaim: ‘tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”. Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His Name: preach Him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”’ ( Mission Praise , 385). ‘Go into all the w

Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17

Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit. ‘Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:1). These words turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism, we hear the voice of the Father - ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’. At His baptism, we see ‘the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him’.  Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Word of prophecy: ‘All mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God’. After His resurrection, we hear Jesus Himself speaking. He says, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...’ (Matthew 12:15-21; 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Luke 3:6). Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit. Every person in every nation in each succeeding generation ... ‘When t

Epiphany of the Lord: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a,5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. ‘Arise, shine; for your Light has come... the Lord will be your everlasting Light’ (Isaiah 60:1,19-20). Jesus Christ is ‘the Light of the world’. When we ‘follow Him’, we ‘will not walk in darkness’. We ‘will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). We are living in difficult times. We are surrounded by much darkness. We must not be discouraged - ‘the lamp of God has not yet gone out’ (1 Samuel 3:3).  When the darkness threatens to overcome the Light, we must take encouragement from God’s Word - ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5). When the darkness seems to be everywhere, put your trust in the Lord - The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?’ - and let ‘His Word’ be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’ (Psalm 27:1; Psalm 119:105). What we cannot do for ourselves, God does for us. "The mystery was made known to me by revelation" (Ep

Feast of the Holy Family: Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

In Christ, there is so much blessing.Let's enjoy it! Be what you already are. Be what God has made you in Christ. This is what God is saying to us here. ‘You have been raised with Christ... You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:1,3). Paul is describing the new birth. Christ has made His home in us. New life has begun. Now that   Christ lives in us - what are we to do about it? How are we to live? - ‘Set your hearts and minds on things above’ (Colossians 3:1-2). This is how we are to live. We are to live out the life which God has put into our hearts. The new life begins when Christ comes to live in us. It does not end there. That is only the beginning. We are to go on, ‘being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator’ (Colossians 3:10). Christ wants to reign in us. He wants to enrich our lives (Colossians 3:15-16). In Him, there is so much blessing. Let’s enjoy it! Herod dies. Jesus lives. The purpose of man is defeated.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Second Sunday after the Epiphany: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51 God is restoring His glory among His people. The call of Samuel is a vivid example of what God can do in the lives of children. Samuel’s early response to God set in motion a whole process of events leading Samuel to become ‘a prophet of the Lord’ through whom ‘the Word of the Lord... came to all Israel’ (1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Samuel 3:19-4:1). Let us ground our children in Christ, encouraging them to have great expectations of what God can do in and with their lives as they grow up, loving Him. The people of Israel were ‘defeated’ by the Philistines. The greatest tragedy of this defeat was the ‘capture’ of ‘the ark of God’: ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’ (1 Samuel 4:10-11, 22). We may lose ‘goods, honour, children, wife’ (Church Hymnary, 406). The glory of God among His people - We must not lose this! God is lead

First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord): Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord): Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11 Getting our priorities right ‘Genesis’ means ‘beginning’. These opening verses challenge us to get our priorities right - (a) The priority of God (Genesis 1:1). God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there. (b) The priority of God’s Word (Genesis 1:3). God is the first to speak. Before any human word is spoken, there is the Word of the Lord. (c) The priority of God’s Spirit (Genesis 1:2). All was ‘empty’, all was ‘darkness’, yet the ‘Spirit of God’ was at work, and transformation was set in motion. Here, we have God’s priorities, set out in the Bible’s first three verses - Putting God first and listening to His Word, we are to pray for the moving of God’s Spirit, ‘hovering over’ our lives to transform them. For those who make God’s priorities their own, there is a promise of great blessing (Psalm 1:1-2). It is the great blessing of knowing Jesus Chr

January 1: when observed as New Year’s Day – Ecclesiastes 3:1-13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21:1-6a; Matthew 25: 31-46

January 1: when observed as New Year’s Day – Ecclesiastes 3:1-13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21:1-6a; Matthew 25: 31-46 Let’s begin the year with worship: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your Name …” (Psalm 8:1). How excellent is our Saviour – He takes away the emptiness of life without Him. ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In every human heart, there is a God-shaped blank. It can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Many people try to find true happiness without opening their heart to Jesus Christ. That’s like ‘trying to catch the wind’ (Ecclesiastes 4:16). True happiness keeps slipping through your fingers. There’s always something missing - ‘an aching void the world can never fill’ (Church Hymnary, 663). Jesus Christ stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for your answer. He says, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in...’ (Revelation 3:20). Will you invite Hi

January 1: The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:15-21

January 1: The Naming of Jesus – Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7 (or Philippians 2:5-11); Luke 2:15-21 His Name was called JESUS (Luke 2:21). Christmas is over – but let’s not forget Jesus. He is still here. He is still with us. He is for New Year’s Day as well as Christmas Day. He is for every day. The New Year has begun. Let there be more than a new year. Let there be new life – the new life that Jesus brings. We have celebrated His birth. It is similar to the birth of any other child. It is a time for joyful thanksgiving. It is different from the celebration of any other child. This is the special Child. This is God’s Son. He is Jesus. He is the Saviour. He brings new life to the world. On the first Christmas Day, the announcement was made: There is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). We move on from the first Christmas. We move on to today. We do not leave Jesus behind. He is with us still. On th